The Lacombe Minor Hockey Association (LMHA) recently won the Minor Hockey Association of the Year Award from Hockey Alberta.
“It was a little bit of a shock. We didn’t know we were nominated. It was shocking, but we felt very proud of our group,” LMHA President Lori McCrea said.
The award is given out to an organization that have made a significant impact on the game through their day to day operations and McCrea credits the awards to some new programs introduced last season.
“We put a lot of emphasis this year on to training our coaches,” she said. “We can’t develop better players if we don’t develop our coaches as well.
“We also spent some time putting on new clinics for body contact for our bantams. We sometimes have size differentials that make things difficult, so we wanted to put on a clinic to help those kids avoid injuries.”
The LMHA also introduced a unique programs where athletes are able to train on school closure days — developing their fundamental hockey skills.
These types of programs are made possible through the commitment of LMHA volunteers.
“We have a group of stellar people every year who step up and do it,” she said. “It is nice to be recognized outside of our own association for the hard work they do.”
Additionally, the LMHA also has a solid base of corporate support which helps cover the considerable costs of running a hockey association.
“Sponsorship is crucial so that we can keep our fees down,” she said. “We have sponsors who step up every year, we have companies that help us run our tournaments and everyone has been very supportive of Lacombe Minor Hockey.
“The last few years have been tough for everyone around who but we have good sponsors.”
Going forward, McCrea said the organization will continue to focus on what made them great this year.
“We want continue with our development program,” she said. “We are going to put more emphasis on developing our young referees in the next year or two. They have been left behind a bit and having a clinic once a year is not good enough.
“We will continue with our coaches programs and we want to expand our skill development programs to other ages.”
McCrea and her team will also look to ensure that athletes are able to access the ice time they need to improve.
“We currently rent ice in Lacombe, Clive Bentley and Alix. Finding ice time to support our teams is a challenge, but it is a challenge for every group,” she said.
She added, “We are very proud of our association and all of our volunteers.”